AT&T to buy Atlantic Tele-Network’s retail ops for $780m


Acquisition bolsters U.S. telco giant’s mobile subscriber base by more than half a million.

AT&T Inc. agreed to acquire Atlantic Tele-Network Inc.’s retail wireless operations in the U.S. for about $780 million, building up its substantial subscriber base.

The deal includes licenses, network assets, retail stores and about 585,000 subscribers. Atlantic Tele-Network operates under the Alltel name in the U.S. and its network covers about 4.6 million people primarily in rural areas in Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina.

The deal, which is subject to review by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice, comes amid growing consolidation efforts in the telecommunications industry.

AT&T in late 2011 bowed out of its effort to buy Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA for $39 billion amid antitrust concerns from U.S. regulators. T-Mobile agreed to merge with MetroPCS Communications Inc. instead. Meanwhile, bidding for Clearwire Corp. has heated up, with Sprint Nextel Corp.’s effort to buy the half of Clearwire it doesn’t own for about $2.2 billion being challenged by a rival bid from Dish Network Corp.

AT&T also has been working to beef up its network, as last month it received approval from the FCC to acquire licenses for wireless airwaves from Nextwave Wireless Inc., paving the way for the telecommunications company to boost the delivery of data to smartphones and other mobile devices. It also recently disclosed a $14 billion plan to expand its wireless and wired network.

In October, AT&T’s profit edged up though revenue fell slightly as additions of contract subscribers slowed.

Shares closed Friday at $33.44 and were down 1.1% premarket. The stock is down 5.2% over the past three months.